In the Italian language, "stare" used with the gerund, which is different from the English gerund, is a much more 'immediate' way of expressing the past than the plain imperfect verb form. It is a way of speaking about what we were doing at that very moment or about an ongoing action or event.
Thus, for example, "Stavamo guardando il telegiornale quando è andata via l'elettricità" can be translated as "We were watching the news on TV when the electricity was cut off", where the highlighted phrase are equivalent, at least literally, in the two languages.
But we can also say "Guardavamo il telegiornale quando è andata via l'elettricità" which is different from the previous sentence in the fact that it doesn't express the same emphasis, as if there were no interest in what we was doing when the electricity cut off or as if we don't want to highlight/emphasize exactly what we were doing at that very moment.
Now, hoping to have well explained the context, what word or phrase 'X' should we use in the sentence below to have a parallel translation?
We 'X' the news on TV when the electricity was cut off.
I have thought to the past tense form "watched", but I'm unsure because "watched" doesn't carry that sense of continuity that the word "guardavamo" do.